Kiba: Gaiden (GARO) Review

Back again.. and now I’m tackeling GARO… or at least a side story of the show…

GARO as a franchise is doing quite well as a franchise at the moment. The first major film Red Requiem hit the cinemas, the second series Makai Senki finished and now a second film following that has been announced. So lets look at Kiba Gaiden, a DVD spin off released to co inside with the first film’s release that explores the origins of the villain of the original series Barago, or Kiba the Dark Knight

KIBA: ANKOKU KISHA GAIDEN (Kiba: Dark Knight Side Story)

Now the conception of Kiba Gaiden seems a bit odd, thinking of the time of its release. You see aside from Kouga returning there was really no other nod to the previous series aside from a little nod to Kaoru. It was a complete stand along film which was a bit disappointing given how the Beast of the White Knight special had managed to get even the dead characters from the show to return. It did seem like all ties had been cut but then we get this… and that’s the interesting thing. See this special wasn’t really necessary, the story didn’t have to be told, I’m sure they could have pulled any other character up for a special like Zero and made a special that would have been more expected; and yet I can’t express enough how awesome Kiba: Gaiden really is… it out shines the movie it’s supposed to promote by the bucket load!

I think my issue with Barago originally was that I didn’t find the character that interesting to begin with, yes he was a great villain and foil to Kouga but I never really cared as I found the character development between Kouga and Kaoru, not to mention the wonderful sub characters; Rei and Jabi. I wasn’t really concerned with the development of Barago, and he didn’t really spend much time on screen before the last few episodes outside of pretending to be Kaoru’s therapist.

Maybe his general lack of development left people wanting to know more about him, or the creator’s felt there was still a story worth telling. Anyway cutting a long story short no matter what I thought about the premise of the film before watching it it’s certainly one of the best things I’ve seen in Toku for quite some time.

The biggest thing I have to praise is the visual diversity of the film itself. It goes through several art styles, cutting away from live action at times. (Though probably done for budget reasons its the exceptional handling of this style that really helps make the film a pleasure to watch). Using an ink brush style from the original series opening credits and touched upon in the Beast of the White Knight special and a very colourful CGI setting for the climactic battle shows just how great a being diverse the GARO franchise is.

The whole film takes place while Barago has Kaoru captive and explains his origins to him and why he spent his live looking over. Through his various flash backs you see how he became corrupt. For being a story about the history of a monster the story really does humanise him in the viewers eyes and I came to care for him despite knowing how he would end up. His final challenge being the GARO armour seemed very fitting even if a way to include GARO in a film that had no place for him and the battle is so well done that you don’t even care.

Its the action that keeps you going though this, while the art styles are nice it does go on for a bit and the interludes with action are a nice reprieve. There are two main fights throughout, though the final one is the real climax the others introduce another knight bent on saving Barago at the cost of his own life you feel like he actually could succeed and save Barago.

There’s only 3 characters returning from the series. Obviously Barago is the main character, alongside Kaoru who gets to learn more about herself and how she is the Messiah which lacked in depth explanation in the series. Barago’s Witch horror right hand also returns, just as messed up as always but good to look at! We also learn more about her as she was glossed over completely in the original show and through her we also learn more about Barago.

At its core however you really want to be seeing this for the last 5 minutes, despite what you think of the story and the quality of the short for the first ¾ its clear that the budget went all towards the one last fight and that’s really what everyone should be watching here. Not that purists and people curious about Barago should skip it because you learn more then enough about him and it is entertaining but I imagine a lot of people will see the cheapness of the production and the use of drawings for a major portion of the story will distract. (Its the same thing that episodes 4 and 5 of Mortal Kombat legacy suffer from).

One nice little thing that makes for a nice quirk to mention is the use of English dialogue in the film. During the more arty sections of the film narration is done in English. This makes at least focusing on the images and art styles easier as your not clambering to look at subtitles all the time and it allows you to appreciate it more if you enjoy it.

So in summary despite is being quite short and on a much lower budget then everything else that has come out of the franchise to this day its possibly the most visually stunning thing in the GARO universe and you could do so much worst. I certainly rate is higher then the most recent film and it outshines a lot of episodes during both the original series and Makai Senki. So get a hold of it and give it a watch.. its entertaining as hell and more action and story focused then the usual action horror premise of the show making for a fun and wonderful distraction.

David ‘Ryatta’ Wyatt

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About Ryatta

So about me... Well when I'm not reviewing things I'm a technical animator working in one of the UKs biggest game studios!

Posted on 06/28/2012, in Other, Text Reviews/Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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